Snail farming in Nigeria is a less popular but lucrative agricultural business. Individuals can venture into due to its low capital intensity and, presently, it is providing one of the finest opportunities to make money within a short period.
The catchy reason for the growth of snail farming in Nigeria is its economic value. It is a good money-spinning venture.
Consequently, snail businesses are one of the most neglected animal rearing businesses in Nigeria. Africans are blinded with the belief that snails can be gotten in the bush at any time, which doesn’t give us the zeal to see it as a business worth any investing in. Yet, we forget that we can breed them and export overseas. This can increase one’s financial status and also increase Nigeria’s GDP
Steps to Starting a Snail Farm in Nigeria
You might be familiar with the saying, “To excel in business, learn from the existing business players”. This step has worked for the most successful snail farmers; it will work for you.
1. Decide which species of snail to farm
When creating a snail farm, you will have to use a single species of snail. An in-depth study proved Achatina achatina, Achatina fulica, Achachatina marginata snails are the best kind of land snail species for farming. Especially in Africa and also one of the few best in the world. This is because of the warm climate endowed by nature in Africa.
2. Set-up your farmland for housing
Space is to be created to accommodate the snail you intend to rear. The snail house must have enough space to enable the snails to graze freely. Overcrowding of snailery hinders the development of snails and, therefore, it should be avoided. Spacing snail reduces the risk of disease eruption incited by overcrowding.
Though snails move slowly, they are good at escaping from where they are. Therefore, you should endeavor to construct escape-proof housing. The most suitable kind of housing construction is the pen house; it is spacious and easily accessible. Pen house is regarded as the best because it protects them from harm, and poor weather conditions. The house also protects them from pests and predators.
3. Purchase your snail
After fully completing the above-stated steps, the next step is to go ahead and purchase your snail. Give keen attention to the kind of snail you want t buy. Any snail bought must be of fresh quality and healthy snails from the market.
Knowing fully well that you intend to rear the snails for future sales, you need to buy a healthy, and well-grown snails that will lay eggs and help populate your farm.
If you are thinking of which snail grows well, worry not.
A well-grown snail can be distinguished at a glance. It always has a lip on its shell: this is a sign of a well-grown snail.
Consequently, if you can’t afford to buy snails or you don’t want to undergo the risk of buying unfertilized snails, it is advisable to get snails directly from the forest instead of buying from the market, which is being exposed to sunlight and must have been dehydrated. The dehydration is caused by the unavailability of water to meet snail’s high demand for water.
As a new snail farmer, you can pick snails from the bush with the very simple techniques below;
- Clear a little portion of land during the rainy season and sprinkle spicy fruits like pineapple, banana. Pawpaw, plantain, etc., will attract snails to where you just cleared closely after three hours.
- Go back to the cleared land; you will be able to pick up snails suitable for rearing.
- Repeat this process until you are okay with the number of snails you have gathered.
Another technique you can employ is picking snail eggs littered in the market where it is being sold. Do the following to amass the best result for your snail rearing, confirm the fertility of the eggs because some of them might have lost fertility due to exposure to sunlight. The eggs are later put inside a container filled with wet sand and covered with coco-yam leaves. Between 21 days and 28 days, the eggs would hatch into baby snails. You can start feeding them and they will gradually develop and you raise a snail farm you desire without buying snails.
4. Feeding and rearing of the snails
Snails are omnivorous animals. Though they are mainly vegetarians hence, they feed on a wide variety of foods such as cabbage, mango, banana, okra leaves, cucumber, plantain, pear, tomato, cassava, lettuce, pawpaw, among others.
Mating and laying of eggs is a vital part of snail farming. Typically, mating occurs during spring and summer. As a hermaphrodite animal, a snail has both sexes in one snail, though snails fertilize each other as soon as they are mature enough. In order for egg-laying to occur smoothly, you should use high-quality soil with the appropriate temperature and humidity.
5. Harvesting and selling of the snails
Snails must be mature before it can be harvested. It is not advisable or even economical to harvest before the appropriate time. To be sure if your snail is fully mature enough for harvest, check the brim of the shell. Once the brim of the snail is thicker and harder than any part of the snail shell, it is a good indicator that the snail is ripe for harvest. Though some snails take longer to grow.
It is not economically wise to harvest your reared snail before it matures. Take note not to harvest all the matured snails in your farm at once for sales in the market.
Yes, snails have good market demand and favourable prices. You can easily sell all the snails on your farm to the local market. Nonetheless, it is important to keep a few for breeding and to serve as base stock for your snail farm.
The consumption rate of snail meat is growing rapidly around the world. Therefore, shipping snail meat to the international market can earn you more money.
Cost of Starting a Snail Farming Business
You might be nursing the thought of how to get capital to run snail farming. The good news is that running a snail farm business is not as huge as you might think it is. The mandatory expenses you need to put in place before starting your snail farming business include: housing, buying fresh snails(optional), feeding, handling, and processing the snails, marketing, and transportation.
You can start the business with an initial capital as small as ₦60,000 to ₦100,000. These figures depend on how large you want your snail farm to be. Purchasing a 100 Achatina snail or Achatina fulica snail to start your business will be more profitable. Reason being that they reproduce in large quantities.
Achatina snail lays 80-350 eggs at once for about three times in a year while Achatina Fulica lays 100-400 eggs at once, for about six times a year. With this rate, there won’t be any need to buy snails from the market unlike when you first started the business. And it will also help you increase the total number of snails available for sales, which will have a favourable effect on your turnover, also increasing your profit in the long run.
As a beginner, creating a snail farming business plan is a crucial step that needs to be accomplished before starting. This will give you a deep understanding of everything that needs to be done.
Benefits of Snail Farming
- Snail farming is not high capital intensive.
- It maintains low mortality.
- Snail farming has a great demand in the market’s place.
- Snail reproduces in large quantities and adapts to most climates
- Feeding snail is very cheap and also easy
- The snail can be used for traditional medicine
Cons of snail farming
This is not to scare you from venturing into snail farming business, but rather, it is to prepare your mind on what you are to face.
If you were once told that the snail farming business doesn’t have its own flaws, then you are being deceived. Below are the few cons of snail farming.
- Getting buyers to purchase your already harvested snail.
- Raising snails: understanding snail biology and conditions involve in rearing snail
- Law and regulations in Nigeria regarding the raise, sell, export and import of snails
- Disturbance from predators: snails are prey to some animals. Snail predators include; snake, rabbits, ants, among a few others. So when running your snail farming business, watch out for these animals.
Considering the cost and time, snail farming is a low-risk business. Unlike many other livestock businesses, snail farming requires very little start-up and operating costs. You can even set up your snail farm at the backyard of your house to save costs on the purchase of farmland.
The best time to start up a snail farming business is in the rainy season especially from July to October. This is because these periods are the time snails normally breed. You should also know that prices of snails multiply drastically during March and December because of the scarcity of snails caused by the dry season. In all, try to adhere to your snail gaming business plan. It is the check and balance between the budgeted and actual activities in your snail farming.
Do well to drop your comment in the comment box below.